Committee Advocates Building ZAKA Headquarters in Sheikh Jarrah

Terror victims' memorial group wants Jerusalem City Council to approve construction of the massive complex in contested neighborhood.

The Jerusalem Memorial Committee for Terror Victims recommended on Wednesday to establish in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah the headquarters of ZAKA – a massive building that will include the offices of the organization and other functions, including a museum dedicated to victims of terror attacks.

zaka - "uzi" - March 8, 2010

According to the chair of the organization, city council member Yair Gabai, the plan is not meant to be a provocation intended to sabotage the summit in Washington, but has been in the works for a long time. ZAKA wants to construct a large building measuring 6,000 square meters that will include a morgue and a large 1,200-square-meter museum.

The Memorial Committee voted on a decision to recommend to City Council that it confirm the request and the location. According to the plans, the building is supposed to be established not far from the government buildings, in the area of Sheikh Jarrah, on the street that leads to the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University.

Left-wing demonstrations are held weekly in Sheikh Jarrah to protest a Jewish takeover of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem through the use of ownership documents dating from the period of the British mandate in Palestine.

According to Gabai, if Jerusalem City Council approves the decision, it will be possible to begin construction soon, because there is already zoning approval for a public-use building on the site. "The process could be quite quick – as long as various political interests don't interfere," Gabai said.

Jerusalem City Council dismissed the importance of the Memorial Committee's decision. They stated, "We're talking about a committee whose job it is to advise only, and that's what they have done. Gabai's initiative did not take into account the other relevant factors. It will have no bearing on the results."